My blog has officially been neglected. I can’t believe it has been ten days since I last posted but as usual, Christmas has gotten away from me. My efforts at planning, preparation and time management were just not enough to accomplish all that I piled on my plate. This is not unusual. I am a work in progress. The good news is despite one visit from Monica (read about her here) and a few sleepless nights, I truly had a wonderful and blessed Christmas. Now, after a couple of days to regroup and renew, which included a much-needed “Castle” marathon on TNT, I am back and am excited to share some of the highlights of our Christmas.
For us, Christmas starts immediately after Thanksgiving when the trees, garland and lights go up. I love decking the halls and tend to over do it (shocking, I know) but it is always festive – not always finished, but festive none the less.
The Christmas Tree(s). My husband likes colored lights and I like white lights so we compromised long ago and decided to do two trees. Is that truly a compromise? A fancy tree with white lights in the main living area and a fun and festive tree with colored lights in the family room. Truth be told, I love them both.
Decorating the family room tree or “kid tree” as we now call it, is a big family tradition complete with hot cocoa and Christmas songs on the radio. Just as my mom did when I was a kid, I put up the garland and the lights and then daddy and the kids hang the ornaments (and then I move the ornaments to more suitable locations after they go to bed) …
Nathan has the honor of putting the star on top of the tree, with a little help from daddy of course.
Along with decorating, there is always a lot of baking to be done this time of year. A LOT! This year, I baked for friends, for charity, for parties and for family and neighbors. The good new is when you bake so many cookies, after a while, the last thing you want to do is eat one. I wish the same could be said of french fries.
We also enjoyed lots of celebrations and parties including a couple of birthday parties right smack in the middle of all the hustle and bustle – but that is for another post.
We enjoyed giving to others.
You are never to young to experience the joy of giving.
And we remembered what had been lost …
Two of the little boys killed in the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut were Tiger Cubs in the local Cub Scout Pack, one of the first responders was their den leader, one of the lost teachers had been a Venture Scout and three other scouts lost siblings that day. We remembered them at our Cub Scout Christmas Party by taking donations and cards and letters of sympathy and well-wishes.
As we remember what has been given …
We also celebrated ongoing traditions and started new ones, like our first year with Noodles, the elf on the shelf.
This is Bob, the imposter elf, rock climbing on the fireplace. You can read about Noodles and Bob here.
A gift from Noodles when he departed Christmas Eve. Watch for his final Christmas Post for 2012 as he will share the last of his antics and adventures while visiting with us.
Dressed up and heading out for Christmas Eve services.
Comfy and cozy in Christmas Eve pajamas and new slippers.
Opening gifts Christmas Morning.
Santa even left a little something for Gracie.
So much to be thankful for and so many things I want to remember about this Christmas.
Nathan’s first eggnog and the pure delight that washed over his face as he smelled and then tasted, exclaiming “mmmmm, it is sooooo good! Like bubble gum milk!”
The generous hearts of my kids as they showed immediate willingness when asked to give up Christmas gifts and instead spend the money to help others. How they were still filled with joy and understanding as we talked about that decision Christmas morning and remembered why there were only a few presents to be opened.
Christmas Eve services when it was announced that our church met our goal of digging 8 deep water wells and feeding ALL of the vulnerable children and orphans in one of the poorest and most ravaged regions of Malawi Africa. And when it was revealed that at last count we were actually tens of thousands of dollars over the goal, my son said “WOW! Now maybe some of those children can even have seconds!” He knows that to them, life is one cup of porridge each day and his heart was hoping some might get to have another. It truly is better to give than to receive.
The beautiful Christmas stockings my sister Dana made for my kids that were just like the ones our grandmother had made for us. Look for this story in a future post.
Nathan talking to my mom on the phone and asking her why she hadn’t come home for Christmas because he thinks her home is or at least should be with us.
My deconstructed Christmas Eve dinner because I just couldn’t do it ALL. Another future post.
The hugs and thanks of elderly neighbors for the gift of a simple plate of cookies and of being remembered. I need to remember to visit them more often.
There are also a few things I have learned this Christmas …
We gave up a lot and we didn’t miss any of it, kids included. We can give more.
If you don’t open the damper on the fireplace, merry and bright become stinky and hazy.
No one notices or has less of a Merry Christmas because you were never able to finish the outside lighting and finally gave up and boxed it all back up and put it in the garage. Let it go.
When you have two little boys, two scooters are better than one – luckily, David was easily convinced that it would be a good idea to spend his Christmas money from grandparents on a scooter of his own.
Yes, we ride scooters in flip-flops and Wellies.
Burgundy mushrooms are definitely worth getting up at 6am to start so they can simmer in butter and wine for nine hours. Pioneer Woman’s Burgundy Mushrooms.
The answer is five. Five years old is the age when you finally work up the courage to ask Santa for the scooter and monster truck you are hoping for instead of bursting into tears and burying your face in your mom or dad’s shoulder while clinging to them for dear life when he asks you what you want.
At five years old, you are a big boy.
If I can’t get my family to eat brussels sprouts that are baked in a creamy cheesy gratin then I am NEVER going to get my family to eat brussels sprouts. Brussels Sprouts Gratin with Carmellized Shallots.
Hot cocoa is best with a little bit of fresh nutmeg grated over the whipped cream.
I know this as well, next year I may or may not improve my time management skills. I will probably be exhausted again and over do it and despite my best efforts, Martha may try to take over and Monica might even show up a time or two. I also know that despite all of that, I will continue to seek the true meaning of the season and will be ever grateful for the Savior who came and died that I might have everlasting life. I am imperfect. He is not.
May you find peace and contentment in these last few days of the season. God Bless.